Thursday, November 12, 2009

SEIU boss Andy Stern has Obama's attention, but uses ACORN to do his dirty work

...the man who appeared most frequently is less well-known. His name is Andrew Stern, and during the first six months of Obama’s tenure, he visited the White House 21 times — about three times per month. Most of these visits included an intimate meeting with the president or other senior officials. Among outsiders, Stern enjoys unrivaled access to the White House. And the more you know about him, the spookier that sounds.


The SEIU-ACORN link is deep and longstanding. At least one SEIU local, Chicago’s Local 880, was organized by ACORN and run by it for 20 years. An SEIU official recently testified that the local had severed its ACORN ties, but Chris Berg, a former special assistant at the Office of Labor Management Standards, says, “I’m very skeptical.” Keith Kelleher, who spent many years running ACORN in Chicago, is still the local’s head organizer. “They’ve been wed together for so long, I don’t think they can divorce,” says Berg.

The local, which represents home health-care and child-care workers, attracted scrutiny when former governor Rod Blagojevich helped it secure a lucrative collective-bargaining agreement with the State of Illinois. Many cried foul, pointing to the $1.8 million that SEIU and ACORN had donated to Blagojevich’s campaigns. This story surfaced again when Blagojevich concocted a scheme whereby he would appoint someone of Obama’s choosing to Obama’s old Senate seat in exchange for a six-figure sinecure at Change to Win. Obama and Stern are so close that Blagojevich thought a favor to one would be repaid by the other.

SEIU has given ACORN nearly $6 million since 2006 — including $250,000 this year — according to U.S. Department of Labor disclosures and the union’s own statements. Some of this money took the form of grants, but ACORN also received significant sums for doing the SEIU’s dirty work. In 2007, the SEIU paid ACORN $140,000 to harass a shopping-mall operator
called General Growth Properties that would not let the union use the card-check process to organize the company’s janitors (more on card check later). According to the company, ACORN’s tactics included “making allegations and filing unsubstantiated claims with government agencies, then implying in handbills and press releases that the claims — before they are even investigated, let alone proved — are fact.”

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